MANHUNT FOR FATHER AFTER DROWNING DAUGHTER

November 24 2011

– The fugitive father of a two-year-old girl who drowned while strapped into her car seat in a New Jersey park was today charged with murder.

Tierra Morgan, of Lakehurst, was on a court-approved visit with her father Arthur Morgan III, 27, on Monday but he never brought her back.

Now authorities are looking for him after she was found dead on Tuesday by teenagers in Shark River Park, who told park rangers what they saw.

Arthur Morgan III
Tierra Morgan

Tragedy: Tierra Morgan, right, of New Jersey, was having a court-approved visit with her father Arthur Morgan III, left, on Monday but he never brought her back

A warrant charging Morgan with child endangerment was issued before the girl’s body was found and an autopsy will be done this morning.

But an abduction alert for Tierra was not issued because the state had no reason to believe the child was in danger until she was found dead.

He met the child’s mother Imani Benton, 24, at a supermarket on Monday to take her out for the rest of the day, reported the Asbury Park Press.

Morgan had not visited the child in a month and planned to take her to the park and watch the film ‘Happy Feet Two’ at the cinema, friends said.

Remembered: Flowers rest on a chair near the front door of the home where 2-year-old Tierra Morgan lived in Lakehurst, New Jersey

Remembered: Flowers rest on a chair near the front door of the home where 2-year-old Tierra Morgan lived in Lakehurst, New Jersey

House: A Lakehurst police officer enters a home on Maple Street in Lakehurst where Imani Benton, 24, lives, after her daughter was found dead

House: A Lakehurst police officer enters a home on Maple Street in Lakehurst where Imani Benton, 24, lives, after her daughter was found dead

He was legally-obliged to return Tierra by 9pm but when he did not come back Ms Benton called police, the girl’s grandmother told the newspaper.

‘Student-aged children came across what they were concerned was a child in the creek’

What rangers told police

A 15-year-old boy was one of three teenagers who saw her hand sticking out of a river in Shark River Park and realised it was that of a child.

Park rangers then called police, saying ‘student-aged children came across what they were concerned was a child in the creek’.

The creek, about 20 miles north of where she lived, is up to 7ft deep in the area where the body was found, near an overpass 15ft above the creek.

Scene: Authorities are looking for Morgan after his daughter was found dead on Tuesday by children playing in Shark River Park, who notified park rangers

Scene: Authorities are looking for Morgan after his daughter was found dead on Tuesday by children playing in Shark River Park, who notified park rangers

Locator map: Morgan met the child's mother Imani Benton, 24, at a supermarket on Monday to take her out for the rest of the day

Locator map: Morgan met the child’s mother Imani Benton, 24, at a supermarket on Monday to take her out for the rest of the day

Ms Benton was told on Tuesday night her daughter was dead, just over 24 hours after she had left her with Morgan.

‘The detectives came to my door and told me she was dead in the woods. I don’t know what I’m going to do’

Imani Benton

‘The detectives came to my door and told me she was dead in the woods,’ she told the Asbury Park Press. ‘I don’t know what I’m going to do.’

NJ Transit, Amtrak and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey were assisting the FBI and the U.S. Marshals Service in a search for Morgan on Wednesday.

Their hunt included train and bus stations, airports, bridges and tunnels.

– Mark Duell

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About Jumpin' Jack Cash

Deep connections are the most important aspect of my existence. I don’t care if people don’t know what they want. I love books. I’m cynical of love stories, although I’m romantic. I adore gardens. I like women who challenge me. I love the rain as an excuse to stay inside and dream. I'm furiously impatient. If I ask you a question best to tell me the truth as I'm likely to already know the answer. I'm a carnivore. I continuously underestimate the magic of fresh flowers in my home. I love warm rain in the summer. My mood elevates to epic proportions when the sun shines. Tell me not to do something and I'll do it twice and take photos. Running is my antidepressant. I loathe lies. I rarely forgive a lie. Loyalty and honesty are my most noble virtues, and I value them more than anything in other people. I love to love, and am able to fall in love very quickly, although it's only ever happened once. I understood myself and fixed myself only after destroying myself. My greatest excitement comes from deliberately getting lost in foreign cities. I can be extremely loud and frighteningly silent. I hate insinuations. I love storms. Justice for all. I'm a proud man, but welcome the influence of the feminine soul. I have two sisters. I’m a dreamer. I’m a deep thinker. Don’t deal with guilt trips or drama that well. I'm extremely stubborn and persistent. I'm brilliant at keeping secrets. I love driving. I become absolutely and completely lost while watching a burning fire. When the toast pops from the toaster I’m never ready and shit myself. I play the guitar, but require much improvement. Solitude and warmth of the sun are perfect together. I’ve been married once and now divorced. I’m a music junkie. Chocolate mousse is the shit. I curse too much. I find it difficult to make friends. I spent four years as a firefighter. I’ve run my own company since 1991. Bright lights, big cities. I’ve been an executive producer of a feature film. Some people don’t care, and that’s the biggest let-down of the human race. There are cures and solutions for many evils, but no remedy for the worst of them all - the apathy of human beings. The sound of the Italian language being spoken is as good as my favourite music. I hate corrupt cops. I relentlessly and passionately pursue anybody and anything that sets my soul on fire. I'm a dog lover, and all my dogs are considered family members. I have an obsession with photography. I have some close friends who are household names, but shall always remain anonymous. I’m crazy but not lazy. Losing a soulmate has hurt me badly. My two young sons are the nucleus of my universe. I love airports. I love freedom. If you are dishonest or disloyal, I can erase you from my life and memory immediately and permanently. I yearn to explore, dream about and discover as many friendships, deep connections and places, one possibly can in a lifetime.
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